Saturday, April 2, 2011
Posted 2:54 p.m. Updated 4:59 p.m.
By Brett BallantiniCSNChicago.com
CLEVELAND It took the Chicago White Sox until the third inning of Fridays opener to score five runs. In Saturdays chaser, they led 5-0 after two.
This, in the infinite jest the Pale Hose have treated the 2011 season as so far, counts as progress.
Gordon Beckham had hits in both the first and second, plating two runs, featuring the second sacker's single off the right field wall, to set another apparent rout in motion.
But just like Fridays faux runaway, White Sox pitching and defense rallied against the rout. This time Edwin Jackson got a jump on his bullpen shufflin crew and gave three runs back in the second, one on a towering blast by Travis Hafner, two later with help from a curious double-error (bobble, throw) tacked to third baseman Brent Morel.
You can have some early struggles, but its always how you finish, said a confident Jackson. Both pitchers settled down. We went through the same things early in the game. As a manager, all you can ask a struggling pitcher is to regain stabilization of the game.
He put himself in trouble a lot, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. He couldnt really command how he wanted to throw the ball, but in the last couple of innings he settled down very well He gave it the best he had today.
Thats exactly what Jackson wanted to do, given his early scuffles.
The first couple of innings, I didnt really have too much, he said. I was catching too much of the plate and they took advantage of it. Its a battle, and you just keep fighting and keep your team in the game.
Meanwhile, tattered Cleveland Indians starter Carlos Carrasco settled down put a chill on the White Sox, with Bacons right-field wall single the last White Sox hit until Morel tapped out a single to right in the sixth. Morel then notched the first Chisox steal of the seasonwho had the rookie in the pool?and scoring on Juan Pierres subsequent single.
I like scoring the runs, but being on the other end, with guys in scoring position, my mind shifts to trying to drive guys in like that, Pierre said.
When Carlos Quentin drove in two runs (thats seven on the season, folks) with another deep double (his third) to right-center with two outs off of relief pitcher Chad Durbin, the lead was extended to 8-3 and led to speculation that the White Sox are only fit to maul pitchers relatively fresh from the pen.
Those runs kill teams, those add-on runs, Pierre said.
The biggest hit of the day was when Carlos hit that double late in the game, Guillen said. Good teams need to get big, two-out base hits. That was a big run.
The insurance runs also allowed Guillen to tap right into a potentially electrifying portion of his pen, the 1-2 young guns punch of Chris Sale and Sergio Santos, who came on to nail down the win for Jackson. The lefty-righty combo allowed just two hits and punched out four.
The White Sox have started 2-0 for the first time since 2005 and have now won six straight games at Progressive Field, dating to last year. A sweep looms.
Now we got to go for the white meat on the turkey now, Pierre said. Weve got em on their heels, so weve got to come out strong like we did these last two days.
Were happy right now, Jackson said, as Motley Crue blared from speakers and a video game tournament was about to tip off in the center of the room. You look around the clubhouse and its pretty loose and relaxed. Thats part of the gameyou win when you go out and have fun. Thats what were doing right now.
Morel dips into the stolen-base pool
Postgame, Morel was stunned to learn he was the owner of the first Chisox steal of the season, but in typical fashion, he played it off legit.
Any way we can score is great, he said. I was just trying to get on base with two outs. I got a good pitch to steal on. JPs been swinging the bat well, and came up clutch. A little insurance run definitely helps.
Last years major-league stolen base champion, Pierre, was cool with losing the early lead to the rookie.
I dont mind him stealing like that all the time, if he makes it, said the speedster. Its good for him, being a young guy, to have confidence to start playing the game the way we play it.
South Side Hit Men
The White Sox are hitting .363 as a team through two games, with an engorged .954 OPS. Not that anyone is complaining.
Its about having good at-bats, whether the results are there or not, Pierre said. People just want to have good at-bats throughout the lineup. This offense starts to wear on a pitcher. He looks at our lineup and says, Man, there arent too many holes in that lineup. So he has to make good pitches all day.
Guillen, thrilled by his clubs production, sees strength stretching 1-9.
Everybodys feeling good at the plate, even Alex Rios 0-for-8 on the season but seeing a sure first inning home run cut down by a powerful gust blowing in from left field, he said. The thing about baseball is, try to keep it as long as you can, stay on the same path, and make sure youre not changing anything.
When you score runs, you just want to keep em coming, he said. We did a good job of that, Beckham getting that good knock, adding on, Q getting a big knock late, adding on.
A.J. Pierzynski visits the mound to talk with Edwin Jackson with the hurler in a jam during the second inning. Jackson struck out Shin-Soo Choo to get out of the frame and had seven strikeouts over his six innings of work. (AP)
Guillen knows the secret of why the White Sox have started out incendiary at the plate.
Nobodys trying to pull the balleverybodys staying the middle of the field and not trying to do too much, he said. This team is going to strike out a lot, but right now theyre not helping the pitchers by swinging at bad pitches. Theyre making them throw the ball over the plate.
Jax and SABR
The righty had no explanation for his mastery of the Indians at Progressive Field, where he improved to 4-0 with a 1.74 ERA in seven career starts.
I have no clue, he said. I never really keep up with stats.
Jackson is 8-1 lifetime vs. Cleveland, with a 2.70 ERA.
John Danks gets the start in the series finale on Sunday, but he wasnt at the ballpark for long on Saturday. After the national anthem, the lefty had to spend an hour in the dentists chair to have an old root canal reworked.
He went in there, cleaned it up a little, said Danks, typically upbeat and chill in spite of his tooth woes.
The oral emergency wont knock Danks out of his start tomorrow.
Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.